In a big embarrassment for Pakistan, its persecution of religious minorities was called out by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. Speaking at the launch of International Religious Freedom Alliance, he highlighted the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. Moreover, he stated that 8 out of 10 people in the world faced problems in practising their faith freely. Similarly, he condemned the Chinese Communist Party’s hostility for all faiths. 27 countries including the UK, Israel, Australia, Brazil and Greece are part of this Alliance.
Mike Pompeo remarked, “Together, we say that the freedom of religion is not a Western ideal, but truly the bedrock of societies. That’s clear from the Declaration of Principles. It is grounded in the International Declaration of Human Rights. Every human being has the right to change their faith or hold no faith at all. More than 8 in 10 people live in a world today where they cannot practise their faith freely. We condemn terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in north-east Nigeria and Muslims in Burma. We condemn blasphemy and apostacy laws that criminalise matters of the soul. We condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s hostility to all faiths."
This indictment comes even as reports emerged of 200 Hindu and Sikh families crossing over to India through the Wagah border recently. As per officials, they came on a visitor’s visa but are now unwilling to go back due to alleged religious persecution. Most of these families hail from Pakistan’s Sindh province. The Shiromani Akali Dal has urged the Centre to extend help to these people.
The statement of the US Secretary of State also assumes significance in the wake of the Parliament clearing the Citizenship Amendment Act. Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted in Parliament that the rationale for introducing the legislation was the fact that Pakistan had failed to take care of its minorities. Furthermore, he claimed that the percentage of minorities in Pakistan had drastically dropped over the years.
The CAA seeks to provide citizenship to the minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This will be applicable to the members of these communities having arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. Moreover, they will not be considered as illegal migrants.